ABSTRACT

This article develops the suggestions of previous commentators that Elizabeth, Jean, and Margaret Sinclair read Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Arch. Selden. B. 24 and/or oversaw its second scribe’s work. It does not advance new proofs in demonstration of these eventualities. Instead, it seeks to establish the place of the Sinclair women in the first audience of the codex and to explore the literary-critical implications of the book’s reception in their orbit. This approach facilitates fresh readings of the topic of advocacy in the second scribe’s texts—the Letter of Cupid, the Lay of Sorrow, the Lufaris Complaynt, and the Quare of Jelusy. Who, these poems seem to ask, can speak for women? The depiction of marriage in the Kingis Quair—for which the second scribe supplies a 140-line conclusion—is also considered. The argument closes with reflections on speculation, book history, and the interest of reception studies for readers of late medieval literature.

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